Top three qualifiers interview

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Event: Las Vegas

Matt Kenseth, Marcos Ambrose and Carl Edwards swept the top three spots in qualifying Friday for Sunday’s Kobalt Tools 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. For Kenseth it is his fifth pole in 403 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races and his first in 2011 and at LVMS. His pole lap was also a track record. The trio talked about their accomplishment with media members after qualifying.

Matt Kenseth, Roush Fenway Racing Ford
Matt Kenseth, Roush Fenway Racing Ford

Action Sports Photography

HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE ON THE POLE? “Five poles in 12 years, that is a little better than I though. It is good to be on pole and I look forward to the race on Sunday. We worked really hard on race practice today and had a lot of speed and in qualifying trim we obviously had a lot of speed. This new qualifying format is kind of nerve racking if you are the fastest car in practice because you are back there watching these guys and you start to feel like you don’t want to mess this up. It feels great to get on the pole and we don’t get them very often so it feels great to get one.”

WHERE DID YOU START SEEING THE CHANGE IN YOUR INTERMEDIATE TRACK PROGRAM? “Everything is so tight it is really hard to tell. I have to give Doug Yates and the engine shop a lot of credit because I think we have more power than we ever had last year. This is our first full season with the FR9 and we started running better on it toward the end of last year. In Phoenix our engine ran really well and now here this weekend you see all the Fords up toward the top. He hasn’t told me that he has had big gains but he has been in a really good mood lately so have a feeling that he thinks we have had big gains and the speed is up. I think that is part of it. They keep working to make our cars better and we got better toward the end of last year and you really don’t know about this year for probably about another month or so but I think we can continue down this path of making ourselves better.”

HOW ARE YOU DEALING WITH THE BUMPS AND HOW WILL YOU DEAL WITH THEM IN THE RACE? “I went around them today. They are bumpy, they are there and you have to deal with them, especially in the race when you have to race around other cars. It is pretty rough down there. Three and four seem to be pretty smooth. You really have to work on your front springs and shocks and bump stops and sway bar and everything to get the front end to go through them good.”

DID YOU NOTICE ANY CHANGE WITH THE FRONT NOSE LAST WEEK OR WILL THIS WEEK BE THE DECIDER ON THAT? “I didn’t notice anything in Phoenix really. We were fairly far off. We didn’t run as good as we did there the last two times really. I didn’t notice a difference there and to be honest with you I don’t know that you will notice a big difference here either. They changed it the same on all the cars so one make won’t have an advantage over another. I don’t know that you notice a big difference other than it looks nicer than it did before. We might notice a better performance but I don’t expect to I guess.”

DID YOU EVER TALK TO VICKERS AFTER LAST WEEK? “I felt bad on the way home because I heard he was mad at me because somebody said he thought I caused the wreck and honestly I didn’t think I did. Obviously when there is a big wreck nobody wants it to be their fault. When you wreck you might say things you aren’t too sure on. I sent him a text like we all do these days and never heard back from him. I figured after I went home and watched the clip that I would get an apology but I never did. That is okay though. I don’t think we touched to be honest with you. That rubber mark is from the 18 car earlier in the race. If we did touch, you could kick a car harder than that. I don’t feel like I did anything wrong there.”

CARL EDWARDS, NO. 99 Aflac Ford Fusion - THE TOP THREE QUALIFIERS ARE ALL FORD AND YOU HAVE TO FEEL GOOD ABOUT THE CHANCE TO COLLECT THAT FIRST WIN OF 2011. “It is good that the first two rows are Fords. That is a testament to how hard our guys are working at the shop and Doug Yates and everyone with the FR9 engine they have done an amazing job. We talked about earlier that we wanted to see how we ran in this first 1.5 mile that would be a little bit of a test for the rest of the season. So far it looks really good. I am excited about the race trim tomorrow and we will see how we run in race trim but this is great for us.

WHERE EXACTLY ARE THE BUMPS THAT YOU GUYS HAVE BEEN TALKING ABOUT? “They are in the middle of turns 1 and 2 a little bit on the entry side so a little bit before center. I think it is where the tunnel goes under the race track. I think that is settling there. I thought I could go around them on top, but it was just as bumpy on top of the race track for me. I think that is why you saw guys moving up. I think some could get through the bumps easier on top. It is right there in the middle of that corner and it really nothing to speak of in 3 and 4 it is very smooth down there. Don’t fix them the bumps are awesome; you got to have something out there to drive around and battle with. That is what makes racing fun.

MARCOS AMBROSE, driver of the No. 9 Stanley Ford Fusion - CONGRATULATION ON A SUPER QUALIFYING EFFORT AND ON STARTING OUT TOWARDS THE FRONT ON SUNDAY. “Thank you it was a great day for us. My Stanley team has been supporting me through a slow start, be had a crash at Daytona and we had a 16th place at Phoenix. Coming in here I really wanted to step up and with the help of Ford we have an all Ford front row. We got a great bunch in Roush that help us get these cars dialed in like we do. I am thrilled for Richard Petty and thrilled for me and thrilled for Stanley. I took a chance and I really stuck my neck out to see if I had what it took just nice to be up here talking to you and hopefully it will be the same on Sunday.”

MARCOS, THAT BRIEF TIME YOU WERE ON THE POLE WHAT DID IT FEEL LIKE AND THEN CARL BUMPED INTO YOU WITH HIS CAR? “I am pretty stubborn, stupid and strong and so you can hit me at 30 mph and it doesn’t matter. It is just a great day for us. I have been second a few times now in my cup career in qualifying so I have been bumped out several times and it never feels any nicer. I am really pleased today. Matt [Kenseth] did a great lap and you can’t complain when someone beats you on speed. It isn’t like he lucked into it. He had the fastest car in practice and he delivered when it counted. No bad feelings today and I am just happy for Richard Petty Motorsports who went through a lot at the end of last year. To be strong this early with AJ [Allmendinger] running top three in points it is just a good feeling over there looking forward to hopefully keeping this run going.

Carl Edwards Continued – CARL, WERE YOU CONCERNED AT ALL DURING THE OFF SEASON THAT OTHER TEAMS MIGHT CATCH UP TO YOU ON THE 1.5 MILE TRACKS AND HOW MUCH DOES THIS MEAN THAT YOU HAVE BEEN ABLE TO STAY AHEAD OF EVERYBODY WHO WAS FOCUSED ON TRYING TO CATCH YOU GUYS ON THESE TRACKS. “Well assuming the race goes well, we don’t know how we will perform in the race. Assuming it goes well I will be very satisfied with the amount of work and the progress we made throughout the winter. It is so easy in this sport to be running really well and to sit back and go wow are fast and it only takes that long for everyone to catch you and pass you up. Our guys led by Robbie Riser and Ford did really well throughout the winter. To come here and our first lap on the track our car ran a 29.05 it was a screaming fast lap. It is just unbelievable. I think I can speak for Marcos and all my Ford teammates we are glad to be driving these race cars right now.”

THESE FIRST TWO RACES THE RACE TRACKS THEMSELVES YOU GOT OFF TO ROCKY STARTS, DOES THE MILE-AND-A-HALF TRACK GIVE YOU A CHANCE TO SORT THINGS OUT AND GO RACING FOR THE DAY AS OPPOSED FIXING A LOT OF CARS THE FIRST 30 LAPS OF THE RACE. “I don’t think you can predict what is going to happen. It is going to be a cut throat competitive race from start to finish. I like to sit here and say that it is going to be really great and everyone is going to be cordial to one another, but I have a feeling it is going to be a really tough race. I hope it goes well, but that is the state of the sport right now people are driving with their hearts out and fighting for everything they got. That is what you are going to see on Sunday.”

Marcos Ambrose Continued - “I go back to some of the ‘Go at it Boys’ mentality and how we are used to rubbing on each other a lot and the side by side restarts. We are used to it, maybe too used to it.”

DOES RPM GET ITS ENGINES FROM ROUSH YATES? “Yes, yes we do.”

HOW DO YOU GET AROUND THE BUMPS IN ONE AND TWO? “I went up the race track and it worked well for me up there. I went there all day and that is where I will try to go in the race as well.”

Carl Edwards Continued – WHAT IS MORE INTRIGUING FOR YOU, RUNNING WITH THE BUMPS OR JUMPING OFF THE STRATOSPHERE? “I am telling you guys you have to try that, it is a blast. It looks real simple with those cables but when you have to take that step of the edge it is wild. My heart was pounding similarly for my qualifying lap.”

- source: ford racing

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Series NASCAR-CUP
Tags ambrose, edwards, ford, kenseth